Tuesday, April 3, 2012
AERANGIS FASTUOSA: THE QUINTESSENTIAL WHITE FLOWER SCENT AND ANOTHER SPRING DRAWING
I went to pick them up on my way home yesterday evening, just as it was starting to get dark. When I was unpacking the basket they had traveled in, I noticed a gorgeous white flower scent, something like strongly indolic gardenias and jasmine, but with that special orchid touch. It turned out to be two little Aerangis fastuosa plants, siblings that had bloomed on the same day, pumping their fragrance out with all their little orchid hearts.
Aerangis fastuosa is a miniature orchid that grows in Madagascar. It’s supposed to be a “hot grower”, but my plants have survived many cold winter nights with temperatures in the 40sF (5-10C) and bloomed like clockwork every spring. The leaves are bronze-tinted, and the roots are orange. Each flower is as big as the plant itself, pure white and clean-looking, with a long nectar spur. Like other orchids of its type, it’s pollinated by a long-tongued moth in its natural habitat.
No matter how many times I smell night-fragrant orchids, I’m always struck by the similarity of the fragrances of different species, and their resemblance to other night-fragrant white flowers. There’s a common theme even though each has its own special nuances. Some are a little spicy, some are root-beer scented, some are clean and sweet, and others are indolic. To me, Aerangis fastuosa epitomizes white flower fragrance in its purest form.
I’ve decided to hold an unusual drawing, not for a perfume, but for a young Aerangis fastuosa plant. It will be one of the offspring of the plant that went to Spokane and another unrelated plant of the same species. It’s mounted on a piece of cork bark and should be blooming size by next spring. If you’re a plant person and you’d like to be entered in the drawing, you must live in the continental US (unfortunately, plants can’t be shipped internationally) and be able to grow a mounted orchid. Just leave a comment about one or more of your favorite white flower fragrances. The drawing will be held on Sunday, April 8.